Cambodia defends legal action against deputy opposition leader

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Phnom Penh, June 2 (IANS) Cambodia on Thursday defended legal action taken against deputy opposition leader and lawmaker Kem Sokha who was charged with “refusal to appear” in court over a prostitution case involving his alleged mistress.

“The refusal to appear in court as summoned by prosecutor is punished in all democratic countries, especially in those of the European Union. So does in Cambodia,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“Therefore, the allegations of judicial harassment against some politicians are absolutely unfounded,” the statement said.

The statement was issued after US and European Union representatives called for the Cambodian government to cease using the judiciary to harass its political opponents.

Last week, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court requested police to arrest Sokha for committing a “red-handed” crime of ignoring court summonses twice over a prostitution case involving his supposed mistress.

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Under the charge, Sokha could face a prison term of between one and six months.

The court explained that because Sokha committed the “red-handed” crime, his parliamentary immunity could not protect him against the arrest.

Sokha has been hiding in his Cambodia National Rescue Party’s headquarters on the southern outskirts of Phnom Penh.



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